Peripheral nerve allograft preservation improves regeneration and decreases systemic cyclosporin A requirements

Suzanne R. Strasberg, M. Catherine Hertl, Susan E. Mackinnon, Charles K. Lee, Osamu Watanabe, Gregory Tarasidis, Daniel A. Hunter, P. Y. Wong

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36 Scopus citations


Peripheral nerve allografting is limited by the need for long-term systemic immunosuppression. The purpose of this study was to determine if nerve allograft preservation reduced the requirements for systemic Cyclosporin A (CsA) immunosuppression. One hundred twenty Lewis rats were randomized to one of seven experimental groups. Group 1 received a 2-cm Lewis posterior tibial nerve autograft. Groups 2-7 received 2 cm ACI posterior tibial nerve allografts. The allograft group was then further subdivided into three groups of two receiving daily subcutaneous injections of 0, 2.5, or 5.0 mg/kg of CsA for 12 weeks. Within each CsA dose, one group received a fresh while the other received a preserved allograft. Preserved grafts were stored in University of Wisconsin solution for 7 days at 5°C prior to implantation. Animals from each group were sacrificed at 6, 12, and 20 weeks postoperatively. Evaluations included histomorphometry, electrophysiology, and serial walking track analysis. Histology revealed varying degrees of nerve regeneration in all groups at 6, 12, and 20 weeks. For a given CsA dose, the group receiving the preserved graft revealed evidence of better nerve regeneration by all histomorphometric parameters including fiber width and density, percentage neural tissue, and total fiber number. There was no statistical difference in walking track analysis between groups at 4 weeks. By 20 weeks, functional recovery statistically poorer than autograft was seen only in the fresh allograft groups receiving 0 or 2.5 mg/kg of CsA. Identical electrophysiologic findings were seen at 20 weeks. These results suggest that nerve graft preservation may decrease systemic immunosuppression requirements while improving functional recovery. As well, storage of nerve grafts is feasible and would facilitate elective surgery and less costly reconstructive repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-316
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1996


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